When Sophie Wheeler was a size 20 she felt too ashamed of her body to take part in sport.

Despite working at New Forest Activities in Beaulieu she’d always turn down the chance to join in with the instructors.

But now the 20-year-old has lost nearly four stone and not only does she have the confidence to go canoeing and kayaking she has been crowned a Young Slimmer of the Year finalist by Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington at a national ceremony.

Sophie, who dropped four dress sizes to become a svelte size 12, now hopes she can inspire other young people to get healthy.

She said: “I love life now. I feel much happier, healthier and I feel so proud to let everyone know when I have dropped another dress size.”

Sophie explains she was always overweight but despite trying diets had no success. “I hated looking in the mirror and I felt so uncomfortable getting ready for a night out.

“I used to feel like I was different from all my friends. I felt like I stood out because I was bigger and I couldn’t always do the same things, shop at the same high street stores or wear the same clothes as them. It affected my confidence and I didn’t want to be like that for the rest of my life.”

She joined Slimming World in March last year to support her mum and has since gone from 15st 8.5lbs to 11st 13.5lbs.

Swimmer Rebecca Adlington, the current record holder in the 800m Freestyle event and London 2012 medallist, who met Sophie when she reached the competition final, said: “Teenagers and young people get a bad reputation because we think of them all sitting in front of the TV or a computer but the young slimmers I met, like Sophie, have shown that their health is important to them and that given the right tools it is possible to make positive changes whatever your age.”